ASEAN SOL­I­DAR­ITY MOVES MYAN­MAR

It’s proof that mem­bers of a re­gional al­liance can come to a con­sen­sus in com­plex is­sues, says An­nuar

New Straits Times - - News - ARNAZ M. KHAIRUL AND ALIZA SHAH KUALA LUMPUR news@nst.com.my

MYAN­MAR’s com­mit­ment to re­solve the Ro­hingya cri­sis, which has dis­placed more than 600,000 from their homes, is not only re­flec­tive of Asean’s unity, but the strength of its mem­bers’ voices, par­tic­u­larly Malaysia.

Umno in­for­ma­tion chief Tan Sri An­nuar Musa said Myan­mar State Coun­sel­lor Aung San Suu Kyi’s com­mit­ment to Asean lead­ers that her coun­try would bring back Ro­hingya refugees af­ter it signed an agree­ment with its neigh­bour, Bangladesh, was ev­id­nce that mem­bers of the re­gional al­liance were able to come to a con­sen­sus in com­plex is­sues with­out the need for out­side in­ter­fer­ence.

An­nuar said the lat­est mile­stone in re­solv­ing the Ro­hingya cri­sis could be at­trib­uted to ef­forts ini­ti­ated by Malaysia, par­tic­u­larly Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak, who re­lent­lessly pur­sued the mat­ter at re­gional and in­ter­na­tional plat­forms.

“It is im­por­tant that Suu Kyi has made a stand, as it shows that de­spite the es­ca­lat­ing global pres­sure over the sit­u­a­tion, Myan­mar re­mains in sol­i­dar­ity with fel­low Asean mem­bers.

“If it had not been forth­com­ing, Malaysia would have had to look into other means of pro­vid­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian aid, in­clud­ing via the United Na­tions. It’s a hu­man­i­tar­ian is­sue that needs to be re­solved and we should work to­gether to solve it.”

An­nuar said with the lat­est de­vel­op­ment, he hoped Suu Kyi would fol­low through the com­mit­ment with ut­most sin­cer­ity.

“There is no use if they al­low in hu­man­i­tar­ian aid, but con­tinue the vi­o­lence against the Ro­hingya.

“No gov­ern­ment ap­pa­ra­tus should be in­volved in vi­o­lence against the Ro­hingya,” he said.

Suu Kyi had, dur­ing the 31st Asean Sum­mit ple­nary ses­sion, given her gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to re­solve the is­sue.

Na­jib, on the side­lines of the sum­mit, said Suu Kyi had com­mit­ted to al­low­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian aid into Rakhine and would dis­cuss the repa­tri­a­tion of refugees with the Bangladeshi gov­ern­ment.

An­nuar was speak­ing af­ter ap­pear­ing on TV3’s Soal Jawab pro­gramme yes­ter­day, where he also touched on is­sues faced by Umno as well as its pre­pared­ness for the 14th Gen­eral Elec­tion.

Mean­while, Myan­mar Eth­nic Ro­hingya Hu­man Rights Or­gan­i­sa­tion Malaysia (Merhrom) said it had its con­cerns, par­tic­u­larly of Myan­mar not keep­ing its word in re­solv­ing the is­sue and con­tin­u­ing to harm the mi­nor­ity group.

Its pres­i­dent, Zafar Ah­mad Ab­dul Ghani, said the Ro­hingya refugees would only agree to be repa­tri­ated if the Myan­mar gov­ern­ment could guar­an­tee an end to the per­se­cu­tion of the com­mu­nity.

“This is not the first time they made such a com­mit­ment. In 1979, the then Bangladeshi prime min­is­ter made an agree­ment with Myan­mar to al­low the Ro­hingya refugees to be repa­tri­ated. How­ever months later, vi­o­lence broke out again.

“Agree­ments were also made in 1994 and 2004. My brother went back (to Rakhine), but af­ter a month, they had to escape to Bangladesh be­cause they were bru­tally beaten and tor­tured.”

The Myan­mar gov­ern­ment, Zafar said, should prove their com­mit­ment by stop­ping the per­se­cu­tion of the Ro­hingya and ac­cept them as one of Myan­mar’s eth­nic groups.

“How can they claim that they are will­ing to ac­cept us when our houses are still be­ing burnt down, and our women and chil­dren raped?

“They must ac­cept the Ro­hingya as an eth­nic group, re­build our homes and com­pen­sate us for the atroc­i­ties and prop­er­ties de­stroyed,” Zafar said, adding that a for­mal agree­ment should be signed be­tween Naypyi­daw and the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil (UNSC) to en­sure that the com­mu­nity could be repa­tri­ated safely.

“Ro­hingya ev­ery­where, in­clud­ing those in Malaysia, Thai­land, Cam­bo­dia and other coun­tries, want to go home.”

He said his com­mu­nity was grate­ful to Malaysia for its re­lent­less ef­fort in high­light­ing the plight of the Ro­hingya.

“I thank Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak for high­light­ing this hu­man­i­tar­ian is­sue... We hope Malaysia will con­tinue to help us to re­solve the is­sue once and for all,” he said.

AFP PIC

Ro­hingya women hold­ing chil­dren at a makeshift camp in Rakhine State. (In­set) Myan­mar Eth­nic Ro­hingya Hu­man Rights Or­gan­i­sa­tion Malaysia pres­i­dent Zafar Ah­mad Ab­dul Ghani says the com­mu­nity is grate­ful to Malaysia for high­light­ing its plight.

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